In 1998 Duncan Hunter
gave this speech
on the House Floor.
Let us talk about personnel shortages that we have today. The United States Air Force is going to be short almost 800 pilots, a little over 700 pilots for this fiscal year that is coming up. Now, when you train a pilot, you put several million dollars minimum into his training, so we are losing not only those good people and all that experience but we are also losing the money that we put into their training.
In the Navy we are going to be short 18,000 sailors and 1,400 recruits in this fiscal year. That means that when a guy comes back from a 3 or 4 or 5-month deployment, we have to send him out immediately to another deployment because there is nobody there to rotate with him, to fill his shoes and to give him a little family time.
Marine aviators have been traditionally our most loyal people with respect to re-upping, taking that next jump of 5 or 6 years or 4 years in the service and opting to do that instead of being in the private sector, and yet our Marine aviators are now leaving the service at a rate of 92 percent.
Even the Army, which has a limited air power but also has, obviously, a very large helicopter force attending its ground forces, is going to be 140 Apache pilots short in 1999. Now those Apache pilots you saw on CNN when they were doing such a great job on Saddam Hussein's tanks during Desert Storm. Those are the pilots that we will be lacking in this next year.
Now I talked a little bit about mission capable rates with the Speaker, and once again here are the mission capable rates, and this is a chart that shows how they are going downhill very quickly.
Mission capable is kind of like the Speaker described it. If you send out 10 aircraft or you have 10 aircraft on the line, how many of them can actually fly out and do their mission? Just like having four or five combines on your farm, and it is time to harvest the wheat, and the first thing you ask your foreman is how many of the combines are working. It may not be all the combines are working; maybe only half of them are working.
Well, we have gone from a mission capable rate that, for example, for the Air Force was 83.4 percent in 1991; that is when George Bush led us in Desert Storm; to today to about 74 percent. We have gone with the Marine Corps from 77 percent to about 61 percent, and with the Navy from 69 percent, almost 70 percent, to 61 percent. That means 6 out of 10 aircraft are able to actually get off the ground and perform their missions.
That is a good example of our declining readiness rates, and that means we have a lack of spare parts and we do not have enough components and enough people in some cases. That means mechanics and the people, the high-tech people that make these very complex weapons systems work, not enough people in the pipeline, not enough people on-station at that particular base to take care of those problems.
Let us go to equipment shortages.
We had almost a 600-ship Navy when Ronald Reagan left office. Today we are down to about 330 ships. We actually had about 546 ships in 1991. Today we are down to about 330. But we are losing a lot of those ships, we are retiring a lot of them. A lot of them are getting older, and, as you know, it takes a long time to build a ship. In fact, it was remarked the other day by one of our assistant secretaries for shipbuilding that actually when we started World War II, all the keels for the battleships had already been laid, meaning we had actually started to build these battleships knowing that there might be a problem. When FDR knew we would probably have a conflict with Adolf Hitler, he started a pretty good shipbuilding program in the late 1930's, and those ships got completed and got put to sea during World War II in the 1940s.
Duncan's vision was clear then. His vision is clear now. That is why he has my support.
Labels: Duncan Hunter, Election 2008